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The major theme centers on resurrection, bringing people back to life from the seemingly inevitable clutches of death. Dr. Manette is rescued from long imprisonment and certain death and nursed back to health by the loving attention of his daughter Lucie. Darnay is twice saved from certain death by the compassion of Carton. Others, like Foulon, are brought back from an apparent death, only to meet real death at the hands of the revolutionaries. These resurrected lives weave through the entire plot and hold the story together.
The minor theme is the cruelty of war as seen in the French Revolution. Dickens spares no details in painting the grim, and often senseless, violence of the patriot mob as they seek revenge and retribution against the patriots. Men are decapitated and their heads displayed to incite further violence.
The mood of the novel is grim and somber. Dickens presents the stark reality of the revolution in an intense, dramatic form, and there are very few incidents that help lighten the grimness. Right from the start, the tragedy of Dr. Manette seated at his shoemaker's bench drives home the horror of his experience. The oppression and misery of common people are highlighted through a series of grim scenes. The bloodthirsty mob, too, presents a dismal and frightening spectacle. This gloomy atmosphere touches all characters and relationships. Jerry Cruncher alone presents some comic relief to an otherwise dark and serious, historic novel.